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Objects in a Row

had a great response last week to the work of Wayne Thiebaud. His paintings are so immediate, colourful, and well painted.

So this week I’ve included a couple of paintings by Henrietta Berk who was also a member of the Bay Area group of painters.

‘Born in Wichita, Kansas, Henrietta Berk was the daughter of a seamstress and spent much of her childhood in an orphanage. She moved to the Bay Area in the 1950's and studied at the California College of Art in Oakland. Berk was famed for her still-life paintings of flowers, interiors and abstract landscapes, and her work was exhibited in galleries from New York to Tokyo. Celebrities including Julie Andrews, Blake Edwards, Kim Novak and Edward G. Robinson collected her works. One of her paintings, which was shown in the 1967 movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?," still hangs in the U.S. Embassy in Peru. ‘

The attached link provides further information about her life and work.

The first painting that I’ve included by Berk is a beautifully constructed still life. The relationship the artist develops between the complimentary use of colours - yellow / violet, and orange / blue as well as the use of impasto paint, and offset composition provides the small painting with a great deal of vitality and presence.

The second painting is also a relatively small interior with a figure.

The composition is very reminiscent of Matisse figure paintings. The oil paint is again thickly worked in places - especially the vase of flowers. Have a look at how the drawing works in the picture - strong reds, green, yellows and orange have been used to map shapes and contours. If you look again at the Wayne Thiebaud paintings he uses the same device. Why is this done and what does it achieve?


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